We all know the potential value of well-written blog posts. They open up the opportunity to drive new visitors at the top of the sales funnel by targeting a different set of keywords to the primary keywords you target on your products and services pages.
In the world of e-commerce, blogging is often overlooked and underutilised. E-commerce sites often fail to identify the potential benefits of publishing high-quality blogs and therefore, invest their time and efforts into other channels.
This, to some extent, is understandable. Blogging is not simply a case of bashing out a few hundred words and publishing it on your site. You need to consistently publish high-quality pieces that add real value to your audience, and this takes time, effort, and planning to be successful.
The worst thing you can do is publish a ton of low-quality posts on your site that takes up valuable crawl budget and add no value to your audience.
That being said, when done well, blogging can go a long way to helping you to build your audience, add credibility, build trust, as well as promote your products and services in a different way.
Whilst blogging is seen as a top of the funnel activity, over time, you can find that it starts to contribute much more than that. Once you have built up a loyal customer base, publishing content to your blog can lead to direct sales when pitched and targeted correctly.
How a blog can become a direct sales channel
Imagine you’re a fashion retailer and you have just launched a new line of clothing. You can push out the new pieces in that line through social media, Google Ads and of course, through the product pages on your website, however, imagine if you published a high-quality blog that talked about the latest fashion trends for the upcoming season.
Within that post, you talk about the items of clothing you can pair together, including examples from your new range. With the addition of some high-quality imagery, or even some short video footage, you turn a piece of content about the latest fashion trends into an opportunity to drive actual sales.
Of course, it’s not just as simple as that. Don’t expect someone to discover your brand for the first time through a blog post and decide to make a purchase. For some, your blog might be the first time they discover your brand, so you need to be careful not to launch a direct sales pitch straight off the bat.
That’s why it’s important to think about your audience and all the potential people that might read your post and create custom messages for each of those audiences. For those who know (and love) your brand, this is a chance to sell them the new line of clothing. They have bought from you before and now you are showcasing some of the latest items that you think will make a great addition to their wardrobe.
For new customers, this is a chance to discover your brand for the first time so let them know more about the clothes you sell and provide them with an opportunity to learn more by signposting them to other related posts, encourage them to sign up to an email newsletter, or send them to a relevant category landing page so they can see more of your products.
How to make your blog posts conversion friendly
Blog posts should still be seen as a great way to attract new customers to your brand and a careful balance is required when writing blog posts that you want to convert. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your blogging strategy:
1. Have a clear goal
Whenever you write a blog post, you should have a very clear goal in mind. If you are trying to write a post that ticks all the boxes, it is likely to come across as confused in terms of the messaging.
Set smart goals for each of your blog posts and make sure you stick to them. This will help to keep your writing clear, and the overall message of your post should not get lost.
2. Understand your audience
As we’ve already touched upon, you can have very distinct and different audiences that read your blog posts and it is important to recognise all of them. Be sure to tailor your writing to your audience and provide relevant cues within your post that are specific to the different people you are talking to.
Whilst it is important to have a clear goal (see #1), it is also important to understand that the goal you set might not be relevant to every reader so be sensitive to that and tailor your copy accordingly.
3. Be consistent
You are in control of the posts that you write, and it is important to be consistent in the way that you talk to your audience. If you are writing for a big brand, it is likely that there will be brand guidelines or tone of voice guidelines that you need to stick to. If you are an independent blogger, then you get to set the tone.
Think about your audience and make sure your tone matches their expectations. That could be formal or casual, but whatever the right tone, make sure it is consistent and authentic.
4. Be authentic
We have just touched on this above, however, authenticity is the key to driving more visits and ultimately more conversions. When you read a post and hear the writer’s passion coming out in the words, you definitely have a much stronger affinity with that piece of content.
Authenticity cannot be fabricated. You either have it, or you don’t. Readers see through that pretty quickly and they choose to follow a brand or make a purchase because they believe in what they are reading.
5. Don’t be too keen to sell
Whilst the ultimate goal is conversions, don’t be too eager to sell in every post you write. Just like social media strategies, you should aim to create a balance of content, remembering the different audiences you are targeting and the different stages of the funnel they might be reaching you at.
Some pieces of content should educate, some should inform, some should entertain, and others should sell. If you do too much of any of those types of posts, your audience will soon switch off so it’s important to mix up the content in your strategy and add real value to your audience with every single piece of content you publish.
6. Use calls to action
Every blog post should have a call to action, otherwise, it’s very difficult to measure the success of the piece. Sure, engagement metrics such as time on page, or even scroll data, can tell you if a visitor read your entire post, but what were you hoping they would do next?
Sometimes, that call to action (CTA) will be to “buy”. At the end of the day, you’re a website that is looking to sell something, so you have to provide visitors with the opportunity to take that next step. In other cases, the CTA will be to “learn more”, “sign up”, “get in touch”, “share this”, or “read more”. When you are setting the goals for your content, think about the action you want your visitors to take when they have finished reading your blog and tailer the CTAs accordingly.
A content piece can, of course, have more than one CTA, and this is important to consider when you are creating a content piece with multiple audiences in mind.
7. Use social proof
Brands are great at telling their own story, but do you know who is often better? Your customers. You love the brand because you work there, and you know everything there is to know about it. Your customers love your brand for lots of other reasons and they are great at telling the stories you sometimes don’t even think about.
Social proof is a great way of reinforcing your own messaging and telling a different story. It’s also a great conversion tool as it helps people to make up their minds about a purchase in a similar way to a recommendation from a friend or family member.
You feel a lot more confident about making a purchase when you read about someone else who has already made a purchase and had a great experience – so good that they were willing to write a review or talk about it.
Brands, especially e-commerce brands, often overlook the potential that blogging can bring to their business. They think of it as a “nice to have” feature on their website – something fluffy to help to tell their story, rather than thinking of it as a conversion tool.
With the right strategy, your blog can become one of your best salespeople, helping to drive customers to different products on your website that they previously might not have thought about.
Whilst blog posts will always be the most effective at the top of the sales funnel, don’t underestimate their value at the business end of the funnel as well.